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What is a 'small estate' in Michigan?

Every Michigan resident is unique. People have their own interests, passions and fears. Similarly, every person's estate looks different when he or she passes away. While some estates are large and complicated, others may be much more straightforward.

It is important for Michigan families to understand how a family member's estate is qualified under Michigan probate laws, however, because under these laws, small estates are treated much differently than regular estates. When an estate qualifies as small, the distribution process is much simpler than if it is a regular estate. A regular estate, on the other hand, may take much more significant oversight from the probate court in order to be completed.

In general, a person has a small estate if the sum of the estate is less than $15,000 plus funeral expenses. In these cases, the court can order that these funeral expenses be paid and the assets distributed in accordance with the will or intestacy laws.

If a person leaves behind a spouse or minor children, then a slightly different formula can be used to determine if a person has a small estate. In these cases, the value of the person's estate must be less than the combined total of a number of factors. These factors include any mortgages or liens, an $18,000 family allowance, exempt property, funeral expenses and the homestead allowance. Again, if an estate meet this threshold then the probate process can be much simpler.

There are many individual factors that go into determining the value of a person's estate. Understanding these can be essential to the estate administration process. People can receive specific legal advice on these issues by considering speaking with an experienced attorney.

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